Over the past 4th of July weekend, the State of Ohio decided to spring. A pack of Camels or Marlboros will now set you back about $4.35. While a few are resigned to pay the increase and grumble a bit, others are cutting their tobacco consumption or outright quitting. The more entrepreneurial types are scheming ways to drive trailers full of cartons from North Carolina or hijack shipments and sell them a la Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.
Now, while it’s too soon to tell if the net effect of the tax increase will be more revenue the state so badly needs to continue its wasteful path of spending and scandalous losses (“hey, let’s put $50 million into rare coins and have $10 million worth of them stolen“), my bet is that the net effect will be more pissed off voters feeming for a cigarette and taking that bitchiness to the poll. Think of New York City, where smoking has become scarce and tax revenue has shrunk to a pittance while .
About the only thing the Republicans could do in the next year to seal their political fate would be to hike alcohol taxes and gas taxes, or alternately less insidious: drive to every constituent’s house and do donuts on their front lawn and leave flaming bags of dog shit on their stoop.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gung-ho smoking advocate in any way, I don’t think we should be able to force our smoking habits into any restaurant and bar in the same way the anti-smoking lobby tries to force us out. In fact I don’t think either side has a damn thing to say about how a business is run or what kind of customers it chooses to cater to. But I do have a problem with trying to bring in taxes with the left hand and shun with the right, that’s just old-fashioned hypocrisy.
Here’s an idea for a ballot initiative: how about we personally tax the politicians double the amount every time they fuck up? Lose $200 million in a shady hedge fund… send an invoice to the politicians who voted for that stupid move. Instant accountability from these dumb bastards.
[Disclaimer: I am an advocate and member of the campaign to elect a libertarian governor in 2006. While I am still under NDA as far as details of the campaign, it doesn’t hurt to say that this is shaping up to be a real blockbuster race for libertarians and a potential win.]